Today’s post is on securing gubernatorial appointments.

The Governor has the authority to appoint several thousand individuals to serve in his or her administration during his or her four-year term of office. Some of these positions require the advice and consent of the Senate. There are two aspects to these types of gubernatorial appointments. First, securing the appointment from the Governor and then secondly, getting the appointee confirmed by the Senate.

The likely more difficult aspect of gubernatorial appointments is not confirmation but actually securing the appointment in the first place. While there are many appointed positions across California state government, the Governor usually makes only a handful of appointments that are either controversial or are such an important post that they generate interest. A lobbyist usually comes into play more during the Senate confirmation process.

The first step in securing a gubernatorial appointment is applying for a position. There are documents that can be found on the Governor’s website including the statutory index on all available appointments. Then, there’s information on the boards and commissions including descriptions, salaries, stipends, how often they meet, etc., which is under a separate tab. And then there’s the actual appointment application, which involves an online application that allows an individual to apply for up to ten positions for consideration by the Governor and his staff.

All of these are found on the Governor’s official website.

After an individual has been notified of receiving an appointment, it must be determined whether he or she needs to be confirmed by the California State Senate. If there is no confirmation, then the individual assumes the position once he or she has been officially appointed by the Governor.

For those that require confirmation, there will be Senate Rules Committee review of that gubernatorial appointee. Now, there are two types of individuals that receive Senate Rules Committee review. There are those that are required to appear before the committee in an open hearing and then there are others who are quote: “subject to confirmation but not required to appear before the Senate Rules Committee.” These individuals submit written responses to Committee Members’ questions, but they don’t have to testify or appear in an open hearing. And of course, interest groups can submit written comments to the Rules Committee members if so desired.

On today’s episode of The CAP·impact Podcast we talk with Erin Evans-Fudem – a Legislative Representative at the League of California Cities, and McGeorge class of 2012 – about the wildfires across California, some of the factors that have led to the surge in wildfires recently, and the issue of liability – specifically as it pertains to shareholder owned utilities like PG&E.

On that liability front, we walk through the legal doctrine called “inverse condemnation” – which is the current standard used in California when it comes to liability – some of the proposals the Legislature is working on to address the issue, and what cities are particularly concerned about on this issue.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

You can stay in touch with us and let us know what you think about the show on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter.

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, a California Supreme Court Case, dramatically shifts the standard for employees and independent contractors in California. Before Dynamex, courts determined worker classification on the multi-factor test from the S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v Dept. of Industrial Relations decision, a balancing test of multiple factors such as the method of payment, length of service, required skills, etc. This new standard, called the “ABC” Test, is a stricter standard that drastically narrows the options for when a worker can be called an independent contractor.

This “ABC Test” requires that a worker can be called an independent contractor if:

“(A) [] the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and

(B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and

(C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

McGeorge alum Chris Micheli suggests that what makes this new paradigm so problematic is that it was “created by the Court with a limited set of facts before it and not by the Legislature and Governor who would utilize a public process of enacting legislation.”

With the amount of uncertainty surrounding the implications of the Dynamex decision, Micheli suggests a solution:

“The Legislature should adopt a bill in August …in order to “suspend” the Court’s decision for at least a year to allow the Legislature, our elected branch of government, to consider the implications of this case. This will allow the Legislature and Governor, after hearings and due consideration of the implications of such a drastic change in the law, to determine what is the best approach for all Californians.”

Business groups are intensely lobbying the Governor and Legislature to suspend the decision like Micheli suggests. However, labor unions and organizations are also lobbying the Legislature and Governor to leave the ruling be, stating that the decision will benefit employees by preventing companies from taking advantage of the independent contractor loophole.

Whether the decision is suspended or not, everyone is on unsteady ground. The full impacts of the decision are yet to be seen.

Regular vs. Special Sessions (transcript)

Today’s podcast is on the differences between regular and special sessions of the California Legislature.

As you may be aware, the California Legislature can be in regular, or special, or even joint sessions. A session is the designated period of time in which the Legislature meets. There are three types.

Our state constitution provides the dates for convening and adjourning the regular session. Other than that, the Legislature has the freedom to set its own calendar for meetings and recesses.

Generally, the Legislature begins meeting in the first week in January of each calendar year and concludes its work for the year either in mid‑September during the odd‑numbered years, or August 31st, the constitutionally mandated adjournment date in the even‑numbered years.

In terms of the period of time in which the legislature meets, they may do so in either regular or special session. A regular session is the one convened in December of the even‑numbered year pursuant to Article 4 Section 3A.

That section of our state constitution states, “The Legislature shall convene in regular session at noon on the first Monday in December of each even‑numbered year, and each house shall immediately organize. Each session of the Legislature shall adjourn sine die,” that is for good, “by operation of the Constitution at midnight on November 30th of the following even‑numbered year.”

A special session, on the other hand, is one that’s convened pursuant to a proclamation that’s issued by the governor of the state. Found in Article 4 Section 3B of the state constitution, this section reads, “On extraordinary occasions the Governor by proclamation may cause the Legislature to assemble in special session.

When so assembled, it has power to legislate only on subjects specified in the proclamation, but may provide for expenses and other matters incidental to the session.”

One common misconception is that the Legislature must enact bills when called into special session. While the Legislature must convene a special session once it has been called by proclamation by the Governor, there is no legal requirement that any legislation actually be enacted, nor even be voted upon.

A joint session can occur in either a regular or a special session. A joint session is one in which both houses of the Legislature ‑‑ that is the Assembly and the Senate ‑‑ meet for a specified purpose. Due to its physical size, joint sessions are normally held in the chambers of the State Assembly.

On today’s show we are giving you the rundown on what the biggest issues facing the California Legislature are in its final month of session. August is going to be a four week sprint to the finish line, so brought on CAP·impact podcast regular – as well as lobbyist, capitol observer, McGeorge alum, and McGeorge adjunct professor – Chris Micheli to help distill which of the roughly 1,400 remaining bills the California Legislature has to work on will be the most interesting.

You can find a similar rundown that Chris wrote on Fox & Hounds, however, he goes into more depth on these bills and a few others on our podcast.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

You can stay in touch with us and let us know what you think about the show on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter.

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

As I discussed yesterday in my post “How California Municipalities are experimenting with voting,” cumulative voting is an electoral process in which voters have a number of votes equal to the number of seats to be elected. For example, if in an election there were three seats up for election, voters would have three votes that they could cast however they chose to – all for one candidate, or divided among multiple candidates. I also discussed yesterday that Mission Viejo is potentially going to be the first California city to adopt this electoral process. This sets up the obvious question, why adopt a new-to-California voting system?

The Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) recently filed suit against Mission Viejo. Again, one asks why? Well, about one in five residents of Mission Viejo is Latinx, however for over a decade the city council has had no Latinx representation. The California Voting Rights Act prohibits district-based voting that would impair a protected class from appropriate representation. Specifically stated the CVRA was designed with “legislative intent to eliminate minority vote dilution.”

After a study, public hearings, and analysis by the city and SVREP, the city maintained their district-based voting. SVREP responded to the decision to maintain district-based voting with a lawsuit. The claim was that Mission Viejo’s district-based voting was a violation of the California Voting Rights Act.

The litigation ended with a settlement plan. SVREP and the City of Mission Viejo agreed that the district-based voting was to be replaced with the cumulative voting system. The city also agreed to put all five council seats up for election every four years. This means that every voter in Mission Viejo will have five votes to use however they wish, including casting all five votes for the same candidate in every city council election.

“If they can get 20 percent of voters to cast all of their votes for that one candidate, well then, they ought to have a voice,” SVREP’s attorney Kevin Shenkman said.

 

 

 

San Francisco has had a lively debate over their Ranked Choice Voting policy since its inception. Ranked choice voting (RCV) is where voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. A candidate who wins the majority of first-choice votes is declared the winner. If no candidate wins on first-choice, the candidate with the fewest is eliminated and the second-choice on the eliminated candidate becomes first-choice for the remaining candidates. This is repeated until a candidate has won the majority of first-choice votes. Complicated? Maybe it’s easier to show you:

Candidate 1 has 450 votes or 40% of the votes

Candidate 2 has 300 votes or 26.67% of the votes

Candidate 3 has 200 votes or 17.78% of the votes

Candidate 4 has 175 votes 15.56% of the votes

Candidate 1 has a plurality, but not a majority. Rather than have Candidates 1 and 2 run head to head against each other in another election Candidate 4 is eliminated and the voters who selected them will now have their second-choice votes counted as first-choice. Assuming 75% of Candidate 4’s voters have Candidate 1 as their second choice and 25% have Candidate 2 as their second choice. When Candidate 4’s votes are redistributed, the outcome is:

Candidate 1 now has 582 votes or 51.73% of the votes

Candidate 2 now has 343 votes of 30.48% of the votes

Candidate 3 now has 200 votes or 17.78% of the votes

Candidate 1 now has a majority and is elected.

But this voting system can also get tricky. What if all of Candidate 4’s voters had Candidate 2 as their second choice? The result would instead look like this:

Candidate 1 has 450 votes, or 40% of the votes.

Candidate 2 has 475 votes, or 42.22% of the votes.

Candidate 3 has 200 votes, or 17.78% of the votes.

In this scenario, since neither Candidates 1 nor 2 have a majority. Candidate 3 is eliminated and their votes are redistributed based on who they have as their second choice candidate. And depending on how that breaks down, Candidate 1 – who led after the first round of votes were counted – could win or Candidate 2 – who led after the second round of votes were counted – could win.

California only has four cities that use ranked choice voting– San Francisco, Oakland, San Leandro, and Berkeley.

But now, another debate has been added to the mix. San Francisco city officials are recommending that instead of only having 3 ranked-choice selections, voters can select up to 10 candidates. The limitation of 3 ranked-choice selections was due to voting machine restrictions, but now San Francisco will have new ballots and machines that can be used as soon as the November 2019 election.

But ranked voting isn’t the only unconventional voting system in California, for long… Mission Viejo announced on July 27 that starting in 2020, it will put a cumulative voting structure in place. Mission Viejo would be the first city in California to implement this voting system.

For example, assume three of Missions Viejo’s City Council seats are up for election and there are five candidates running for those three seats. A voter in Mission Viejo would have three votes – one for each open City Council position – that they could cast however they choose. That could mean casing all three votes for one candidate, two votes for one candidate and one for another, or one vote for three different candidates.

Cumulative Voting is a method of election in which voters have a number of votes equal to the number of seats to be elected. Voters can assign as many of their votes to a particular candidate or candidates as they wish. Most commonly, it has been used to resolve voting rights cases for city council, county commission, and school board elections.

The difference between ranked choice voting and cumulative voting is this- in ranked choice voting – like traditional voting in California and the rest of the US – one candidate can receive a maximum of one vote from a voter. Cumulative voting, however, allows a voter as many votes for a candidate (or candidates) as there are opening seats.

 

 

 

Bills, Amendments, & Resolutions – Part 2 (transcript)

Today is part two of looking at bills, constitutional amendments, and resolutions. You can find last week’s post here. Today we’re going to talk about constitutional amendments and resolutions.

Constitutional amendments can be proposed by initiative ‑ that is, by the people ‑ as one of the forms of direct democracy that we have here in the state of California. In this context, we’re talking about constitutional amendments being placed on the statewide ballot by the Legislature.

Of course, in order to adopt those amendments to our state constitution, it requires a vote of the people, a simple majority. That’s 50 percent plus one.

The Legislature, just like the people, has the power to place measures on the ballot to amend California’s state constitution. These constitutional amendments are ACAs, Assembly Constitutional Amendments, or SCAs, Senate Constitutional Amendments.

Constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature require a two‑thirds vote of each house of the Legislature for passage, rather than a simple majority vote. However, constitutional amendments are not sent to the Governor, so the Governor cannot sign or veto a constitutional amendment.

In other words, if an ACA or an SCA passes both houses of the California Legislature with a minimum two‑thirds vote in favor, that constitutional amendment is automatically placed on the next statewide ballot, with or without the consent of the Governor.

Let’s switch gears now to resolutions. Keep in mind that resolutions are formal expressions of the views of the California Legislature. Resolutions do not carry the force and effect of law.

Bills, from our prior podcast, create statutes or amend statutes. Those are the laws. Resolutions are not laws. They’re expressions of support or opposition.

Interestingly, in the California Legislature, there are three different types of resolutions. These three different types of resolutions can be considered individually by either house, or the other two have to be considered and approved by both houses.

One type of resolution is used by either house individually, meaning it only passes that single house in order to take effect. Those we call house resolutions.

The other two types of resolutions, which we call a concurrent resolution or a joint resolution, require adoption of both houses of the California Legislature before they are given a chapter number by the Secretary of State.

In today’s episode, we finish our conversation with Adriana Ruelas and Adrienne Shilton from the Steinberg Institute. You can find the first half of our conversation here. Today we talk about SB 1113 and AB 1971.

They’re both interesting bills. SB 1113 would establish voluntary workplace mental health standards, meaning that the state of California would set standards for what would be in workplace mental standards, but companies could volunteer to adopt those standards.

AB 1971 is where we spend more time, however, and it’s the most controversial of the bills that we talked about. AB 1971 expands the definition of “gravely disabled” to “include a condition in which a person, as a result of a mental health disorder, is unable to provide for his or her basic personal needs for medical treatment, if the failure to receive medical treatments, as defined, results in a deteriorating physical condition that a medical professional, in her or her best medical judgment, attests in writing, will more likely than not, lead to death within 6 months.” In practical terms, this bill would make it easier for medical professionals to place someone under a 5150 hold.

In addition to legislation, we also talk with Lacey Mickleburgh who is a staff attorney at McGeorge School of Law’s Homeless Advocacy Clinic, which is part of McGeorge’s Community Legal Services about the services  that they’re providing and the interdisciplinary approach they take to helping those who are experiencing homelessness or those who are housing insecure here in the Sacramento region.

You can learn more about the individual bills that we talk about in the links above, and you can learn more about Steinberg Institute and the work they do here. And you can learn more about all of McGeorge’s legal clinics here.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

You can stay in touch with us and let us know what you think about the show on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter. Or you hit me up directly on Twitter @jon_wainwright.

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

 

 

 

Bills, Amendments, & Resolutions – Part 1 (transcript)

Today, and next Monday, we’re taking a look at bills, amendments to bills, constitutional amendments, and resolutions.

In the California State Capitol, there are three types of measures that can be considered by lawmakers ‑‑ bills, constitutional amendments, and resolutions. All of them are printed by the Office of State Publishing, and they’re all made available, usually that night online, and the next day in the Bill Room, found in the basement of the California State Capitol.

Let’s look first at bills. Bills make statutes, and statutes are law. Generally, no bill, except the state budget bill, may be heard by any committee or acted upon by either house until it’s been in print for a minimum of 30 days. This rule, like many legislative rules, can be waived with a three‑fourths vote of the house of origin.

Only legislators of the Assembly or the Senate can author bills. We have a bicameral legislature, so bills must be passed by both houses of the legislature, and then acted upon by the Governor. Our Governor can sign bills, he or she can veto bills, or they have a pocket signature that can allow bills to become law without his or her signature.

Remember statutes, or laws, can only be enacted through bills. I go through the many types of bills in the podcast. There are quite a few.

What are the actual provisions of a bill? At the top of the bill, you’ll find the introduction date and the amendment, or amendment dates where there are multiple amendments. Each date is listed at the top, so you know, easily, what version of the bill you’re dealing with.

Then, of course, comes the bill number. The bill number itself is on the right‑hand side of the bill. Whether it’s an Assembly Bill or a Senate Bill is on the left‑hand side. Then, the principal author of the bill is listed. Of course, if there are any co‑authors, their names are listed under the bill’s author, and that’s done in alphabetical order.

Next comes the date. After the date, comes the title. The title identifies the code section or code sections of the bill that are being affected. It contains what they call a relating clause. “This is a bill relating to transportation,” for example.

After the title and the relating clause comes the Legislative Counsel’s Digest. The Legislative Counsel are the Legislature’s lawyers, and they must draft every bill and every amendment. In the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, they succinctly set forth a brief summary of existing law, and it says, “Existing law provides…”

At the end of the Legislative Counsel Digest are what is called the vote keys. These identify the vote required to pass the bill, whether the bill makes an appropriation or not, whether the bill is fiscal, and therefore will be heard in a fiscal committee, and the fourth key is whether the bill contains a state‑mandated local program.

Then by law, by the Constitution, every bill must have an enacting clause. Therefore, at the start of every bill, it says, “The people of the State of California do enact, as follows…,” and then the bill itself is set forth.

Finally, comes that actual bill language. The bill language is easy to follow, because language that is being repealed is in strike‑out text showing the words to be deleted or repealed, and italicized words are new provisions to the law, so it’s relatively easy to track.

This is to be continued. Next week we’ll talk about constitutional amendments and resolutions.